meet our team

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Matt Mehalik

Executive Director

Matt is the first Executive Director of the Breathe Collaborative and its communication platform, the Breathe Project, beginning in September 2016. From 2007 – 2016, he served as Program Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh where he created Pittsburgh’s sustainable business network, Champions for Sustainability, and its performance programs and networks.  Matt has been teaching sustainability and environmental policy at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, since 2008.  He has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in sustainability, design and education and has co-authored “Ethical and Environmental Challenges to Engineering” with Michael E. Gorman and Patricia Werhane.  Matt’s Ph.D. is in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.   He serves as board treasurer of CCI, a Pittsburgh nonprofit providing energy performance education, advocacy and expert technical assistance. For the past 20 years, Matt has dedicated himself to creating and managing networks that transform systems for a sustainable, just, fair and hopeful future.  He is a native of Forest Hills in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Debra Diamond Smit

Communications Manager

Deb serves as the first Communications Manager of the Breathe Project where she is managing media, marketing and messaging for more than 36 environmental organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia who are members of the Breathe Collaborative. She is an award-winning editor and journalist with more than 25 years of experience in print, radio and digital media. As a reporter, she specialized in environmental issues, business, technology and healthcare features. She was the founding associate editor of NEXTpittsburgh, a popular city-based publication, and a frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Magazine and Crain’s Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Fast Company, OZY, The Washington Post and Time-Life Books. Deb grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has lived with her family in Mt. Lebanon for the past 20 years.

Michele Fetting

Program Manager

Michele is the Program Manager at the Breathe Project where she supports strategic campaigns to improve air quality and protect communities from air pollution, gas drilling and petrochemical development. She has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including work on campaigns and policies to protect U.S. farmland, the Florida Everglades and Gulf Coast, air and water quality and endangered wildlife. She has a deep commitment to environmental justice and building a clean energy economy. Michele co-authored The Challenge of the Environmental City: A Pittsburgh Case Study, a chapter in the book Toward Sustainable Communities (MIT Press). Her work has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Naples Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, GoWorldTravel, American Birding and NEXTpittsburgh. Michele has a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Climate Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, P3R/Pittsburgh Marathon, Friends of the Riverfront and FracTracker Alliance. She can often be found running the trails or paddling the rivers around Pittsburgh.

Guilise Gondre

Intern

Join us in welcoming Guilise Gondre who is co-interning with the Breathe Project and Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community as part of her Master of Social Work program at the University of Pittsburgh. Guilise is a passionate and studious young woman who intends to alleviate several social issues that disproportionately affect black and brown communities across the world. She believes that environmental inequity is a the crux of all social issues. Until we, as humans, recognize that nature, animals and other humans are all one, we will continue to see unfavorable living conditions in all arenas of life. Through her internship, she plans to learn as much as I can in regard to grassroots organizing, nonprofit administration, policy change and effective messaging techniques through the lens of environmental justice and equity. She will be with the Breathe Project and BCMAC until mid-April and she looks forward to working with everyone over the next 7 months.